What are UL labels?

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By Taichi Nakahara | Apr 08, 2019
UL Listed and UL Classified labels

Have you ever noticed the label on a computer, pressurized tank, or any other electrical appliance? The likelihood of that label bearing one of the safety marks namely UL, CSA, or the likes of it, is extremely high. But, what do these marks and symbols signify and why are they so important? When it comes to electrical devices, some of the most important attributes from an end user’s point of view remain product quality and safety. Keeping this in consideration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified and accredited a few independent labs, referred to as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL), to perform product safety testing and certification. Some of the widely recognized NRTLs include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Intertek Testing Services NA Inc. (formerly known as ETL), MET Laboratories, and NSF International.

While there are almost 20 NRTLs globally, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is one the most popular and leading certification companies in North America. Any product bearing the “UL” mark signifies that it has been tested and certified to a specific UL standard. Similarly, all labels bearing the “UL” mark have been tested and certified under the UL 969 label and marking standard. Although UL certification is not required by federal law in the United States, it assures consumers that the electrical product is compliant with the stringent safety guidelines and specifications outlined by UL.

UL labels can be classified into the following types -

a) UL Listed – indicates that the product has been tested towards a safety standard recognized by OSHA.

b) UL Classified - implies that product is certified to strict standards created by UL, but not recognized by OSHA.

c) UL Certified - also known as Enhanced mark, is gradually bridging the gap between UL Listed and UL Classified labels. Often accompanied with a smart mark or a 2D bar code, a UL Certified label can be scanned by consumers to look up the safety standards that the given product has been tested and certified against.  

UL works directly with the customer to designate the appropriate label classification for their products. However, all of the above label types require a UL-approved construction. A “construction” lists out in detail all the key elements of the label including the substrate, inks, printing processes, application of the product that the label is designed for, decorative finishes, and manufacturing location.

With three UL-approved facilities in Asia and America, GMN offers over 40 types of UL-approved constructions. GMN routinely utilizes screen, flexographic, and digital printing to print UL labels on different substrates including white or clear silver polyester, polypropylene, polycarbonate, and more. UL conducts multiple random facility audits and sample testing throughout the year to ensure compliance of the label construction and manufacturing processes with the set guidelines.

In addition to the above label types and classifications, there are some labels that bear the “Recognized Components” mark. These labels go on individual components that are part of a larger product or system and hence, they are barely seen by end consumers. Although labels with “Recognized Components” mark are not required to be made by a UL-certified construction, it is highly recommended and often fabricated under the UL standards.

In our extensive label-manufacturing experience, GMN has worked with a wide array of industries and companies, including Hewlett Packard, Eaton, Megadyne, and Flextronics, to create custom UL label solutions. From material selection, to artwork approval, to proper documentation, GMN can help you navigate the complexities of creating a UL label that fits your exact needs. To learn more about our other decorative and functional label solutions, visit our capabilities page here